South Bend is suing Bare Hands Brewery

Bare Hands Brewery building at 331 W. Wayne St. // Courtesy: South Bend Tribune, Robert Franklin

A popular brewery is facing a lawsuit. The city of South Bend is suing Bare Hands Brewery, saying the owners haven't met their end of a bargain.

The Brewery's owners were planning on opening a new location on Wayne Street. They purchased the former Gates Service Center for just a dollar from the city.

The hope was to keep up with the redevelopment of downtown.

The vacant building that would be filled is close to other attractions, like Four Winds Field.

But the city says that low sale price was conditional, and Bare Hands hasn't met those conditions.

According to the Real Estate Purchase agreement, the city agreed to sell the old Gates service garage to Bare Hands Brewery if the owners invested around $1.4 million in it over five years. But that's not all.

The agreement says Bare Hands would "seek from relevant authorities all necessary approvals, including without limitation rezoning and special use approvals" within 6 months.

At the end of November city officials sent a default letter to the owners of Bare Hands, saying they had missed the deadline.

The lawsuit says city officials tried to contact the owners "several times" before that letter was sent.

Those documents go on to say the owners "offered no status update, no progress report, identified neither the receipt of or application for any permit and made no offer or plan to remedy its breach."

Now the city wants the property back.

The purchase agreement says if Bare Hands doesn't hold up its end of the bargain it would have to negotiate a "re-conveyance of the property" back to the city.

WSBT 22 reached out to the owners of Bare Hands on Tuesday. A spokesperson says lawyers don't want to talk about the matter. But they did post this on their Facebook page: "To those who have continued to ask about our new location. Long story short the city found someone who wanted to pay for the property and they think they have a way to get us out.”

The city's only response was this statement from a spokesperson: "After numerous attempts to work with the developer, the city is pursuing legal action to enforce the terms of the agreement. We cannot comment further due to pending litigation."

According to our reporting partners at the South Bend Tribune, this property was rezoned and given a special brewery exemption in 2016.

The owners also say it takes longer than six months to get a brewery permit.

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